Holistic spirituality has often been characterized by academic literature as belonging to the private sphere, articulated through the market and anchored in the growth of narcissistic individualism. However, recent empirical evidence and theoretical developments suggest a more complex picture. Drawing on the analysis and comparison of two empirical cases—the organization of collective meditations in public spaces and the teaching of yoga in prisons by holistic volunteers —we explore the rise of social engagement initiatives, aiming to transform society through the promotion and use of holistic techniques. Our main conclusions revolve around four main issues (a) the move of holistic spirituality from the private to the public sphere and the increasing public resonance with (and acceptance of) the contemporary holistic milieu, (b) the emergence of an holistic imaginary of social change anchored in ethics of reciprocity and responsibility, (c) the role of the body as a central locus of resistance and social transformation and (d) the articulation of new forms of individualism that enable to make self-realization compatible with social and political commitment.
- Holistic spirituality
- Social theory